There are two ways that social media can help your business: one is by helping you market using nontraditional channels. The other is by allowing you connection touchpoints in between marketing and other business outputs. Both are valuable. Like with all things, it’s the mix that makes it work out.
The Marketing Part of Social Media
Marketing is helping someone find a product or service that might be of value to them and it entails helping a prospect closer to a potential sale and further relationship. There are plenty of ways that we do this in social media. We might ask you to join a free email newsletter, where there’s more relationship building, but eventually there is a sales attempt or two. We might point you via social networks towards our offer, our call to action. We might create content that further educates you towards a purchase, and then guides you to appropriate next steps. These are all easily understandable methods of using social media to build sales. Measurement wise, these are also the best way to understand your direct efforts to sell via the social web. But then, there’s connecting.
Relationships and the Social Web
I’ve got many colleagues and community members who read and participate at [chrisbrogan.com] without being my core buyer. I love these relationships every bit as much (sometimes more) than I do the relationships with my potential clients and customers. I use the tools of the social web to build relationships that I hope extend out far beyond my buying cycles. Why? Because more comes from these relationships than what comes from a typical single sale.
But how do you use the tools of the social web to connect? Here are some thoughts:
First, always, is listening. If it’s important to know what your customers (and your prospective customers) are saying about you, about your products, and about the space where you do your work. We’ve talked about this before. It’s the point of my grow bigger ears advice. Listening is the secret weapon of the social media world, because it gives you a sense of who’s talking about you, and what you can do to help them.
In the relationship-making sense, however, there’s another value. You can listen to people for what they’re interested in, and you can learn to engage them on those topics, instead of simply talking about your own business all the time. Imagine the obvious sense and value in talking to people about what makes them tick, instead of limiting conversations to your own marketing efforts. That’s the gold, friends.
Make Creative Content
Building a campfire for people to gather around never goes out of style. If you create something of interest, people respond. Here’s the story about how Dave Delaney and Griffin Tech created a cool DIY project for the CES before last, and how much came out of that.
If you’re Hubspot, you’re a content company with a software product, it seems. They make more interesting inbound interest-generating conversations than most companies I know. And the result of all that work? They get plenty of warm leads and sales for when those times are right.
Promote Others Incessantly
My third and biggest piece of advice is to promote others. If you want to earn your way into some amazing business (and personal) relationships? Promote others at every chance you can. Bring light to those people doing great work. Help raise up the people who are brilliant and deserving of attention ( like Tom Webster), and give them the spotlight.
Find other people opportunities. Share your luck with others. I send speaking gigs to friends all the time (when it makes sense), and I hope to be able to do that even more in 2011 (plans are underway for something for that). The more you can share good opportunities with others, the more you have a chance to change the world.
Why Market ONLY?
If you had the choice to market and connect with people in between marketing opportunities, why wouldn’t you? It’s the best possible mix of call-to-action goodness and connective tissue. It’s human business. And it’s what will drive business to you in bigger ways than you’ve ever imagined.
What are your thoughts?